Optimize individual choice and autonomy

In an instructional setting, it is often inappropriate to provide choice of the learning objective itself, but it is often appropriate to offer choices in how that objective can be reached, in the context for achieving the objective, in the tools or supports available, and so forth. Offering learners choices can develop self-determination, pride in accomplishment, and increase the degree to which they feel connected to their learning. However, it is important to note that individuals differ in how much and what kind of choices they prefer to have. It is therefore not enough to simply provide choice. The right kind of choice and level of independence must be optimized to ensure engagement.

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  • Provide learners with as much discretion and autonomy as possible by providing choices in such things as:
    • The level of perceived challenge
    • The type of rewards or recognition available
    • The context or content used for practicing and assessing skills
    • The tools used for information gathering or production
    • The color, design, or graphics of layouts, etc.
    • The sequence or timing for completion of subcomponents of tasks
  • Allow learners to participate in the design of classroom activities and academic tasks
  • Involve learners, where and whenever possible, in setting their own personal academic and behavioral goals
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